Third annual award recognizes Community Living leader
Monday October 17, 2011 — Camille Jensen
VANCOUVER — Jordana Pratt, a Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) member, is the most succinct when praising the winner of this year’s Big Picture award Linda Perry: she genuinely cares about people, and she really deserves this.
Among the more than 80 people gathered at the Vancity Theatre to celebrate the award, there are no shortages of glowing reviews for Linda, executive director of the Vela Microboard Association. That’s what happens when you spend 30 years successfully supporting individuals and families who have a disability, there is just too much to say.
“(Linda) was really the first one who taught me about how to support someone with a good personal plan,” recalls Maggie Vilvang, Community Living Innovation Venture principal, who met Linda in 1984.
“She is extremely dedicated to that person-by-person approach, and it turned into lots of success in lots of families’ and people’s lives.”
Six formal speakers were invited to speak about Linda’s contributions with accolades ranging from a pioneer in the Community Living movement to someone who saved the lives of people who may have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
Husband and wife Ric and Pat Tesan spoke about their son Aaron, who’s inclusive lifestyle can be attributed to Linda’s support.
“She helped us formulate what Aaron’s life could look like,” recalls Pat, Aaron’s mother. “She helped us with a budget, I would never have known how to create a budget. She helped us actually speak with the ministry at that time, and when we were told to go home and sharpen our pencils, she helped us sharpen our pencils.”
She even, literally, held their hands, joked Ric.
“Linda and microboards are very much the same,” said Tim Stainton, a professor and director of the University of B.C.’s School of Social Work, who along with his wife Cy won last year’s Big Picture award.
“They just have a unique set of principles and a quiet way of making things better.”
Helping people create Vela Microboards is Linda’s biggest legacy. Microboards are formed when a small group (micro) of committed family and friends join together with a person with challenges to create a non-profit society (board).
Together this small group of people address the person’s planning and support needs in an empowering and customized fashion. Linda has assisted in creating hundreds of microboards.
Upon accepting the award, Linda said it’s been an honour to be part of so many people’s lives: to laugh, to cry, and to learn from one another.
“Everyone I have met has taught me something,” said Linda, adding she holds memories of most people in the room. “That’s what community is, shared experience.”
The third annual Big Picture award took place Oct. 14, and is sponsored by BACI and posAbilities. The event honours leaders and change-makers in the community living movement. After the awards, participants took in the Canadian premiere of Benda Bilili.
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